It Was A Busy Week At Foxtail Farm

 Posts installed on the back stairs

Posts installed on the back stairs

In my effort to improve the look and meet residential code we called in some outside help.

On Wednesday 47th Street Carpet One replaced all the carpets in the house. To prepare for the install I spent all day Tuesday moving most everything out of closets and finding a place to stash the stuff. Cheryl conveniently found that this was a good day to be on the road. We are vacating the master bedroom to make that available for B&B guests and taking a smaller bedroom closer to the kitchen, so that meant moving beds, dressers, night stands, etc. In total this felt a lot like getting ready for a house move except no cardboard boxes. The offset to all that work was that I found some things that had been missing since we moved from San Diego 1-1/2 years ago.

Residential code requires handrails for all interior and exterior stairs. Now the interior is not a problem as we only have one floor but outside we have 3 separate staircases all requiring that we have handrails installed. Lawson Construction was here on Friday with their sub-contractor installing the 15 posts which were all 8 feet in length and it appears at the moment that the handrails will be about 60 inches high which for me wouldn’t be a problem. You see Cheryl refers to me as Monkey Man not because I have a 37-inch reach (which I do) it is because I can scratch the back of my knees without bending over. Can you? In case you are wondering, the posts will be cut down so that the handrails will meet the code requirement of 34-38 inches.

Saturday was when the real fun began. I have had on my list of things to do to a major donation run and this was the day. We had some big items that we needed to get out of the garage and we thought that we could make one stop at the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Mariposa. One of those items was a shower door assembly I had removed a while ago from one of the bathrooms. Well as it turns out Habitat already had 20 shower doors, hadn’t sold even one, and did not want ours. Another item was an oak kitchen table we had received as a wedding gift from our grandparents. Habitat did not want that either. But we had another option, the Mariposa SPCA had a thrift shop and took donations and if that didn’t work they were adjacent to the Mariposa landfill. The SPCA took the table and before we had even left their lot, had it sold. I was secretly hoping that they wouldn’t take the shower door assembly as I had visions of launching that into the landfill from the back of the truck, but they were gracious enough to take the doors. Oh well, I will find other ways to be an eight year boy again.

Saturday wasn’t over. We spent nearly all afternoon moving Ursula’s run from the front of the house to the back. This is a 10 foot by 30 foot galvanized metal enclosure with two roof sections. Not something you can pick up and carry. It required some disassembly and some landscape modifications to get it positioned properly. You may ask, why the move? Well we had a local friend tell us that bears will go after chickens because they will eat their food. They will rip the hardware cloth right off the run to get in and kill the chickens in the process. Now the black bears in our area are active in the day time and I was not worried about them getting at the chickens during the night. They might knock over the coop but would not likely break into it. What we needed was an early warning system should anything approach the run (and by proximity that could include the orchard or garden). Ursula to the rescue! She will bark at Turkey Vultures flying hundreds of feet in the air and so would certainly give us warning should a bear or any other animal come close. Ursula’s sire (we were told) once chased and tree’d a black bear and then started chewing the tree to knock it down so you see Ursula has it in her blood.

Sunday was a weird day. It started out cold for mid-June, low 40’s. In fact, we were close to the 1919 record low for that day of 38 degrees. The weather was calling for rain late in the afternoon so we needed to get started early. Our goal Sunday was to weed whack a mile of trail through our property (carefully avoiding the Poison Oak). We loaded up all our gear into the tractor, a gallon of fuel for the gas-powered weed whacker and 6 batteries for the electric one, plus line and cartridges, clippers, etc. and set out on the trail. I was the Marine force taking aim at the native population defending the trail using the gas-powered equipment to cut a wide swath through the nearly waist high defenders. Cheryl was regular army doing clean-up operations and managing supply lines (driving the tractor). We ran into some tricky spots but for the most part made good progress. Near the upper end of trail, Cheryl ran out of batteries and decided to return to the house for lunch and to recharge. She left me with a full tank of gas which was all I needed to finish about 100 yards of trail. Easy enough. This last part of the trail (as I remembered later) was a section that always was wet even in the driest conditions. So when I hit the last bastion of defenders, they sprung their trap, a swampy morass of waist high, wet grass that bogged me down. I battled for a good 30 minutes and they were holding their own until at last I broke through and made for the top gate to the trail and here is where they left me with one last surprise. Poison Oak plants hidden in the grass and yes it was unavoidable, I stepped (whacked) those land mines and most certainly exposed myself to my arch-evil nemesis, the green death of horrible rashes. In the end, it was a hard-won victory and to avoid the potential rash I donned sterilized rubber gloves to remove my clothes. Me naked sporting just a pair of rubber gloves is not a picture I am prepared to share on this blog as humorous as that might be.

I mentioned that Sunday was a weird day.  We did get our rain with the continued cold temperatures resulting in a June frost and snow on Chowchilla mountain which is visible from our back yard. If you can believe it, this coming Sunday, the temperature is expected to reach 100 degrees.

 June 12 - Snow on Chowchilla Mountain

June 12 - Snow on Chowchilla Mountain

Peter BergComment